The Paramount Chief of Bekwai Traditional Area, Nana Osei Kwadwo II, has expressed concerns about the persistence of illegal mining activities, popularly known as galamsey, in his jurisdiction.
Under his nose, he said armed and protected persons are engaged in illegal mining activities in forest reserves while the government continues to push investors to undertake prospecting and mining.
He raised concerns when the Ashanti Regional Minister, Hon Simon Osei-Mensah appeared before the Regional House of Chiefs to answer some questions pertaining to the region on Wednesday, November 15, 2023.
He shared a call he received from some officials on Wednesday morning while he was preparing for the general meeting of the House to the effect that the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor had granted a licence to a company to undertake prospecting in Bekwai.
The visibly distressed and overwhelmed chief demanded answers regarding the issuance of a prospecting licence, despite a directive by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for it to be halted.
In response, Hon Osei Mensah promised to reach out to the Lands Minister for a brief on the development.
He noted that the President had directed prospecting licence issuance to be halted due to the spate of destruction to forest reserves and water bodies and was not privy to the new move by the sector Minister.
Bekwai is one of the hotspots for illegal mining in the Ashanti Region. The menace has taken a toll on creeks and farmlands in the community according to a report filed in August 2023 by the Chronicle newspaper.
A farmer told the news portal that, the situation and samples of the polluted water they depend on to irrigate their cocoa farms, have been submitted to the Bekwai Municipal Assembly on countless occasions to no avail.
“We have been to the Municipal Chief Executive of Bekwai on several occasions with bucketfuls of polluted water from the Dankranho creek, but he does not give any assurance that the challenge would be addressed”, he claimed.